Joining the league in 1967, the Philadelphia Flyers enjoyed a division-winning season during their first year.
The Flyers were actually not the first NHL franchise to play in the city of Philadelphia. The city iced a team during the 1930-31 season, the Philadelphia Quackers. The team wasn’t very successful, though. They lasted a single season, posting an abysmal 4-36-4 record, still standing as the fewest games ever won by an NHL team. They would suspend operations after that season.
There were plans in 1946 to bring another team back to Philadelphia. The plan was to acquire the franchise of the old Montreal Maroons. However, the group leading the charge was unable to raise funding for the arena in time. The next try for a team in Philadelphia would begin in 1964 and was led by Ed Snider. The rest was history.
The Flyers would officially join the league for the 1967-68 season. This expansion welcomed six teams into the league. As for the rules of the draft, the teams were to select a total of 20 player’s from the Original Six teams. That was eighteen skaters and two goaltenders. Excluded from the draft was a selection of 11 players and a goaltender from each team, as well as a few other rules.
Some of the Flyers’ notable picks from that draft were Bernie Parent, Joe Watson, and Lou Angotti. Angotti would later be named the franchise’s first captain. The team made their debut on October 11th, 1967. They lost 5-1 to the California Seals. They would win their first game a week later against the St. Louis Blues. And the Flyers home debut was a shutout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
All of the expansion teams were grouped into the same division, so the Flyers would end up coming out on top, despite a below .500 record. They finished the season at 31-32-11. The division-clinching victory was actually not a Flyers win, though. The Flyers would lose 2-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Leo Boivin posted a first-period goal for the Penguins that would end up as the game-winner. Earl Ingarfield would later add an empty-net goal to finish things off. Doug Favell ended up making 21 saves in a losing effort. But the team would get help from the Oakland Seals, who were playing the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings were right behind the Flyers in the standings.
Thanks to a 2-2 tie, the Kings only registered one point in the game. It was their final game of the season, giving them 72 points. At the time, the Flyers had 73 points. That was enough to give them the Western Division crown. The Flyers still had one more game to play, but the outcome would be meaningless to the standings.
The Flyers would take on the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs and would force them to a game seven. But the Blues would come away with the victory in the final game to move on.
It would take a few years for the Flyers to establish dominance in the league, but their first season in the league could be deemed a small success.